Knock on wood: no flood this year

Good news for Quayside and Queensborough: the Fraser River spring runoff has peaked and is now receding. In plain English: we are unlikely to see a repeat of the 2007 floodwatch that saw Quayside sandbagged and residents put on evacuation alert.

Sunrise on New West Quay in May 2007. Photo by Intelligent Calcium
Sunrise on New West Quay in May 2007. Photo by Intelligent Calcium

The City of New West Office of Emergency Management sent out a two-paragraph media release about it today based on information from the B.C. Ministry of Environment River Forecast Centre: given current snow conditions in the mountains, there is a very low probability for water levels to rise again this year.

Having been nine months pregnant and living on Quayside during the 2007 scare, I am very happy to hear it! I remember having vivid dreams of going into labour during an emergency evacuation, or discovering post-birth that I couldn’t go back home. This may have been when I dreamed I had to put Baby to sleep in a shoebox.

Being proactive folks, the emergency management folks used the second paragraph of the release to remind us all of our duty to prepare a family emergency plan and 72-hour survival kit in case of floods, earthquake, power outages, severe storms and other disasters. They’ve even compiled a helpful checklist for procrastinators on the city’s website.

Speaking of procrastinators, now that we’re expecting baby #2, maybe we should finally get on that emergency kit – if only to limit the scope of my progesterone-fueled nightmares.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Port Royal gets controversial height variance

Despite vocal opposition from Quayside residents concerned about the impact on their views, city council has approved the request by Port Royal developer Aragon Properties to build a taller tower in Queensborough.

On Monday city council voted 5-2 in favour of a height variance for the Queensborough tower, which will allow the developer to add 28 more feet to the highrise.

Coun. Bob Osterman and Bill Harper opposed the variance.

Source: Port Royal tower to be taller | New Westminster News Leader

As The Record’s Theresa McManus reports, the decision illustrates that election endorsements don’t always translate into influence:

Allegations that city councillors who are endorsed by the New Westminster District and Labour Council or the Voice New Westminster electors group didn’t hold any weight in council’s consideration of a development variance for the Aragon Group’s proposed highrise at Port Royal.

Coun. Bill Harper, who was endorsed by the labour council, opposed the variance. Councillors Jonathan Cote, Jaimie McEvoy and Lorrie Williams, also endorsed by the New Westminster District and Labour Council, supported the variance

Councilors Bob Osterman and Betty McIntosh, members of the Voice New Westminster slate, were on opposing sides of the vote – a fact that made McIntosh smile. McIntosh supported the variance, while Osterman was opposed.

Source: Independent Thinkers | Only In New West (Royal City Record)

Diesel spill on the Fraser River

There’s an ugly “sheen” on the Fraser right now, and a strong smell, caused by a burst pipe at a CN rail yard in Surrey. The spill was contained by cleanup crews from several environmental organizations. The diesel may have made its way downriver as far as Queensborough.

Yoss Leclerc, harbour master with Port Metro Vancouver, said the diesel came from a CN rail yard in Surrey, where a land-based pipe ruptured and spilled diesel into the river. The pipe ruptured Monday afternoon and was stopped within an hour.

“There was a sheen on the river,” said Leclerc about the spill that was detected by a Port Metro Vancouver patrol boat. “The crew was trying to figure out the source.”

According to Leclerc, the patrol boat reported the spill to the Coast Guard. Other agencies, such as Fisheries and Oceans Canada, were also informed.

“There was no report of affected wildlife or anything like that,” Leclerc said. “Nothing was found.”

Two environmental response organizations attended the scene to clean up the spill.

– More: Diesel oil hits Fraser River | Royal City Record 

No school in Grimston, school board decides

Grimston Park will be protected space, and will not be considered as a future school site according to last night’s school board vote. This is great for the West End, who would have lost its only large park, but leaves New West in a bit of a pickle. New schools must be built, but where? To further complicate matters, our school district is facing a $2 million budget shortfall. We have neither time, nor money, nor resources. So what to do?

Some creative thinking is called for! Some of the ideas I’ve heard kicked around include:

  • Sending some New West kids to Burnaby schools (working with that city’s school authorities, of course … though attending by stealth would be funnier … I’m picturing balaclava-clad kids scurrying across Tenth every morning, hiding behind bushes and trees like you’d see in some Merrie Melodies cartoon … maybe that’s just funny to me)
  • Building a new high school in Queensborough, where there’s a little more room to breathe
  • Building multi-storey elementary schools instead of single-storey
  • Building parking lots underground in order to build on smaller lots (not currently funded by the province, but that should change IMHO)

Any other ideas? At this point I’m wondering if I should be planning to homeschool!